A few weeks ago I started reading Gelineau & King's epic fantasy series. These two created such an interesting universe and equally fascinating concept in that there are mini book series simultaneously happening in the same world. It's so complex and simple at the same time so I thought I'd invite the dynamic duo to sort things out for us.
Hi Gelineau & King, welcome to Talk Supe!
I guess I was sort of right in my assumption that both books belong to the same series or universe to be more accurate. Can you tell us more about this universe you created?
JOE KING: All the novellas in the Echoes of the Ascended series are set in our fantasy world of Aedaron. Quick history: long ago, mankind lived in a world of demons. One hero, Aedan, united all the tribes of man to defeat the demon armies.
Our stories begin a thousand years after that, in a world that’s long forgotten most magic, monsters, great wonders, and all the things worth fighting for.
The stories follow a group of five orphans who grew up together, reading and believing in the tales of the old legends. As they grow up and go their separate ways, they each encounter their own struggles in their own unique corner of Aedaron. But through it all, they never lose their belief in the old ways, or in each other. Three of the stories start with our orphans in their early twenties, so they're still relatively young and just starting out in the world. The last series starts the main characters at age 14.
We’re still in the early phases, but there definitely is a common threat, or antagonist, between all the series. One that threatens all of Aedaron, but that we are revealing pieces at a time across all the series.
Like I said, it's simple and complex at the same time and truly inventive. Are these "sub series" going to merge at some point?
JOE KING: There’s definitely going to be some crossover with characters and plots, but the one thing we really wanted to do (and promised to do) was be sure that anyone could read one entire series without having to read all the others and still have a great time.
I should probably take a step back here and describe exactly what we’re doing.
Echoes of the Ascended is the name of the overall project in our world of Aedaron. Echoes is essentially a series of series.
Right now, we’ve got 4 different series. Each series follows different characters, though, all of the main characters grew up together in an orphanage.
Each of the series is a different kind of story – Reaper is a classic epic fantasy tale, Rend is darker action and horror, Shadows is an urban crime romance story, and Faith is a much younger magical, battle school story.
We designed it so that you could read 1,2,3, or all the series and get customize your own experience. You’re definitely going to get a LOT more if you read them all, but we understand not everyone will be into every character or every type of book.
That's cool and very thoughtful of you guys. Is there a reading order and do we need to read all books?
JOE KING: If you want the full experience, I’d recommend reading them all in order of publishing date.
So in this order: A Reaper of Stone, Rend the Dark, Best Left in the Shadows, Faith and Moonlight (Feb 15 2016), Broken Banners, Skinshaper (Mar 15 2016), Civil Blood (Apr 15 2016)…
If there’s just one or two series you enjoy, you can just read that series in order, so for example: A Reaper of Stone, Broken Banners, The Warden’s Way (unreleased book 3), etc
Obviously, this second option will get fuller as we get more books out for each series. The good news is we release a new novella every month, so it won’t be too long a wait. It’s been a little difficult to talk about Echoes of the Ascended being a series of series, when each of our series had just one title. Well, finally, the second books of each series are coming out!
Starting with Broken Banners, book #2 of A Reaper of Stone, which came out Feb 15, 2016. You can get it here.
So who are these orphans and what are their roles in the big scheme of things? There are four right?
JOE KING: Yep, 4 series for now. The leads for each series are one (or two) of our 5 orphans.
A Reaper of Stone follows Elinor, a headstrong lieutenant of the King’s Army. She’s a bit of an outcast because she tends to butt heads with authority a bit (okay, a lot). She’s out in the marches, the countryside, where she starts to rediscover traces of the old world – magic and fantastic creatures.
Rend the Dark follows Ferran, an acolyte of the Order of Talan. He and his team hunt demons of the world, called Ruins, that have lain hidden in the world of man since the time of Aedan himself. As they hunt and destroy these ancient horrors, they begin to uncover secrets that will begin to change the world.
Best Left in the Shadows follows Alys, our quick-witted, quick-tongued thief and assassin in the underworld slums of Resa. She’s got a lot of history with Daxton Ellis, nephew to the king, and seventh in the line to the throne. They were once lovers, but their worlds pulled them apart. Our story starts years later as they’re meeting up again. This series really gives us our first look into the capital city and the politics of the city, the nobles, and the king.
Faith and Moonlight is a bit different than the first three. It follows two orphans – Roan and Kay. It starts their story about five years before the other three series, and it begins with them trying to enter the School of Faith, a school where the magical warriors of our world are trained. This is the one magic element of Aedaron that has survived the thousand years since Aedan and the time of legend.
All four series take our orphans down a different path and open up a different window into their corner of Aedaron, but all of them are connected into telling a greater story. And much like the first heroes that our orphans revered and believed in as children, in time, they too will become this generations new legends as our story unfolds.
For those unfamiliar with the series, which existing series can you compare it with and in what way?
MARK GELINEAU: There's a lot of different comparisons to make in regards to both the different aspects of the stories, and the different series themselves. In terms of structure, I like to think of the Echoes of the Ascended like comic books. All the characters live in a shared world, but you can follow the series that you are into.
A couple of reviews have compared the stories to a softer version of Joe Abercrombie, which I think is awesome because Abercrombie's stuff is AMAZING. Definitely one of my favorite fantasy writers. Rend the Dark for instance, has a mix of adventure and scares that fans of the TV show Supernatural would feel really at home with. Best Left in the Shadows has been compared to Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, which Joe just read and is a huge fan of.
How did you two came up with this idea? How long was the initial process before you wrote the first book?
MARK GELINEAU: The idea first came about because, between the two of us, we are naturally drawn to different types of stories. However, we both have shared a love of fantasy stories since we were kids. We knew we wanted to write the types of stories that we always loved, the types of stories that we ourselves wanted to read. But how those stories would feel was something we wanted to focus on. The inception of the idea that would become Echoes of the Ascended really came from Joe pitching the idea of the orphans. Not only do the books center around these characters, but the whole project sprang from them. Five orphans, growing up together, and destined for great things. But their paths would be different. As we started talking about this idea, we realized the potential it gave us. Each orphan could explore their own part of the world, and experience their own types of adventures.
Joe first pitched the orphan concept to me in April of 2015. We broke ground on the book that would become A Reaper of Stone in May. I'm a teacher by day, so I had summer off. That summer, we worked hard on the initial stories that became the first books in our four series.
Impressive turnaround, guys! I've always been fascinated with tandem writing. How do you two write the books? Like do you alternate chapters or is one person "in charge" of one set and you just do consults?
MARK GELINEAU: Joe is often the one who will pitch the initial ideas and structure for a story. Then, we break it together, working out the outline of the story and the beats of the scenes. Whenever possible, we try and do this face to face. There is just something better that happens when the two of us can riff back and forth.
Once we've got the outline solid, I take it and write the scenes. Joe will review and revise them, then send them back to me for further rewrites. Along the way, he is cutting, cutting, cutting. We go back and forth like this probably three or four times before we send it off to our alpha reader. Then, after fixing any major issues that came up with our alpha, we send the story off to a group of beta readers, and then finally our copy editor.
Do you read blog reviews for your books? How do you address unfavorable reviews?
JOE KING: We do read all the reviews we can. It’s pretty tough to get those reviews where people don’t like (or outright hate!) your work. But one of the great things of being a writing duo is that we can blame each other for whose fault it is :)
Then after that, we talk about it, see if there’s anything to be learned, and we keep writing. By and large though, we’ve gotten an incredibly and unexpectedly welcoming reception from reviewers and bloggers, even ones who didn’t like our work, and for that we’ll always be grateful.
Nice chatting with you guys, thanks again for stopping by!
The second event was when his mother took him a to showing of Star Wars. For the entire duration of the movie, Mark sat with his mouth open and his small hands gripping the armrests. The better to pretend to fly the spaceships you see.
Since those early days, Mark has loved the stories of the imagination, the stories that transport a person from the world they know into new realities, distant domains, and realms of wonder. Even more than the stories themselves though, Mark discovered the sheer joy of sharing those stories. Taking them out of the cardboard box and into the hands of friends and family. This drove Mark first to education, where he could talk about the amazing stories out there in the world, and then eventually to writing, where he could try and write some of those stories for himself.
Gelineau and King is the extension of that joy. A place where Mark and his partner, Joe King, can take the stories they create out of the box and put them out there in the world.
Mark is loved and, more importantly, tolerated by his amazing wife and young son. And when Mark is not writing or teaching, he is secretly adding comics and paperbacks to a certain cardboard box waiting in his son’s closet.
Joe King spent most of his childhood doing what he loved most – building things with his friends. He built friendships, stories, worlds, games, imagination, and everything in between.
After a brief career in software, for a while, he pretty much gave up on the idea of building anything. Five years later, the woman who would become his wife, rode in on a white horse and changed his life forever. Another five years, and two beautiful daughters later, Joe is building new unimaginable things.
Joe believes in the power of stories, dreams, family, friendship, and getting your ass kicked every once in a while.
More than anything, he wants to tell a good story, and, for him, Gelineau & King is the constant reminder that it’s never too late to start building the things you love.
Follow Mark & Joe
Website | Facebook | @GELINEAUandKING | Goodreads